GOOD BAD & UGLY
Dagenham & Redbridge gaffer Wayne Burnett’s light-hearted recollections
HE scored Grimsby’s Golden Goal at Wembley in the Auto Windscreens Shield before going back to the famous twin towers three months later to help the Mariners to Division Two promotion.
Wayne Burnett’s career took him to all four corners of the country. Starting out at Leyton Orient, he also took in Blackburn Rovers, Plymouth Argyle and Huddersfield.
He finished his playing days in Non-League football before stepping into the dug-out at Fisher Athletic, Dulwich Hamlet and Grays before taking the reins at League Two Dagenham & Redbridge.
The 43-year-old was even an extra on cult TV show Dream Team and could often be seen in the famous Harchester United purple.
Leyton Orient. It was a nice club. I joined when I was 16. At the time there were no restrictions and you could go and play at Charlton, Millwall, Spurs – there were no contracts and you could train with whoever you wanted.
I was at QPR with Pat Holland, who used to play for West Ham, and he took me to Orient. He’s a good guy Patsy, he went on to become first team manager, so I’ve got a lot of time for him and I still speak to him now.
It was slightly different back then. You had to sweep changing rooms, clean boots, clean cars, go and get striped paint and glass hammers! It was a good grounding.
I’ve been fortunate to play under some excellent managers. I had some good times under Alan Buckley when Grimsby were in the Championship. Playing under Kenny Dalglish at Blackburn was fantastic, I enjoyed my time under Lennie Lawrence and I’ve worked under Peter Shilton.
I learnt a lot from all of them and I take a little bit from all of them into my management now. I worked under John Still, a very good friend, who I admire and respect immensely. He’s someone else I learnt a great deal off.
From a coaching point of view I also learnt a lot from a guy called Jim Hicks. He’s had a big impact on my coaching.
I don’t want to do a disservice to anyone. I played with so many good players it’s so difficult to say. Anyone who passed me the ball to my feet and didn’t make me run! But seriously, anyone fortunate enough to be a professional football was good enough. I wouldn’t want to say one player in particular because I’ll have people on the phone. Maybe I’ll just go with Fletcher from Harchester United!
Grimsby into what is now the Championship in 1998 via the playoffs. We’d been to Wembley three months earlier in the Auto Windscreens against Bournemouth. I managed to score the golden goal. Even though it was a dream to score, the play-off game meant even more.
That experience did help when it came to the play-off final. It’s a pressure game, your season boils down to the last game. We had a few drinks for a few days after that. After the first game at Wembley we were away at Carlisle 48 hours later. We won the game, but we couldn’t celebrate. After promotion we had a three-day bender!
Lee Ashcroft. He was a funny guy. He was a bit of a nut really. He was always playing practical jokes and cracking a joke. He’d always be trying to cut your socks up or your jeans in half. He was always up to something and it would drive you mad. Aidan Davidson, the goalkeeper, was a bit nuts, too.
This wasn’t from when I was playing but from Dagenham when John Still and Terry Harris were here.
We had a young player on trial for two or three weeks.We sat down and John said, ‘Let’s get him in and see if we can offer him a deal’. Terry had the job of calling this kid up. He spoke to him and said, ‘Come in Monday morning, be there at 9am’.
So we’re sitting there and this kid turns up with three or four of his friends. We recognised the young man, we didn’t know who he was but we acknowledged each other and he sat down at the table in our training ground. After about ten minutes we realised the kid Terry had rung had the same name as the kid we were going to offer a contract – Femi! We had two Femis on trial and Terry had called the wrong one up. The poor kid turned up with his brother and his agent ready to sign a deal. You’ve got to support your colleagues so we left it to Terry to sort it out while me and John left! Terry never lived it down.
Getting promoted with Grimsby was the best feeling. Scoring at Wembley will live with me forever but actually winning promotion was the result of a lot of people working very, very hard.
There are people who have had far bigger and more illustrious careers who didn’t get promoted or play at Wembley so I feel very lucky and honoured to have done both.
As a manager, it has to be Dagenham & Redbridge finishing ninth in League Two last season. It was an incredible achievement and we really are very proud of that.
And I was in Dream Team on Sky One! I’d stopped playing and my good friend Andy Ansah got me along. I tell everyone I was the star – I was an extra really! It was a load of guys getting together and doing some filming. It was fun, but promotion was the best.
Getting injured at Grimsby. I was out for about 18 months. I was 28 and I had groin problems. Towards the back end of our Wembley season I was having painkilling injections and I probably had one or two too many. I had an operation at the end of the season. I kept coming back and breaking down. Being injured for any player is a low point.
TOUGHEST PLACE TO GO
Sunderland’s old Roker Park wasn’t a nice place to go. I always used to get beat at Brentford, I just never had a good time there. And anywhere that was far away.
When I was starting out I played against Micky Hazard. He absolutely destroyed me. He was a wonderful player.
Ruud Gullit was a great player to play against, too. Both were just head and shoulders above everyone else. I’ve played against Glenn Hoddle as well. He was an idol of mine and a genius.
FAVOURITE PLACE TO GO
Wembley! No, I’m joking. But I was fortunate to go to some great places. I enjoyed going to Sheffield Wednesday, Sheffield United, Nottingham Forest – all good clubs you want to play at. I played at Anfield, which was a great experience, and the old Highbury, which was nice.
Like most managers, I’d like to manage at the highest level possible. I’m fiercely ambitious and I’d like to take Dagenham as far as I can.
I’ve had a good grounding and I know how the lower echelons work. Who knows where it can take you? It’s nice to see young British managers developing and progressing. Look at Eddie Howe at Bournemouth, Keith Hill at Rochdale, the likes of Micky Mellon at Shrewsbury, Gary Rowett’s gone to Birmingham. We underestimate how good some of our managers and coaches are.
GLORY DAY: Grimsby’s Wayne Burnett wins a header against Bournemouth’s Steve Fletcher in the Auto Windscreens Shield Final in 1998
Special moment: Golden Goal at Wembley Special achievement:
glory Auto Windscreens